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Wednesday 26 July 2017

Kenny hopes to ease bailout terms

Enda Kenny is attending his first summit of EU heads of state as Taoiseach, with Libya and the Eurozone crisis set to dominate proceedings.

The European Council meeting will consider the situation in Libya and the surrounding areas, while the Eurozone gathering will focus on economic co-ordination and related issues in the euro area.

Mr Kenny will be pressing for an opportunity to discuss easing the terms of the EU/IMF bail-out during the meeting of the Eurozone heads of state.

Both Fine Gael and Labour made fighting for better repayment terms for last December's €85bn rescue package a key plank of their election campaigns.

Mr Kenny met European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in Brussels yesterday ahead of today's meetings.

The Commission described the meeting as frank and positive, with Mr Barroso acknowledging the interest rate on the EU/IMF rescue deal was a major issue during the election.

"Recalling that this is not in his gift, President Barroso reiterated that the Commission supports Ireland's wish to have some easing of the interest rate which applies to the loans negotiated under the programme," a Commission statement said.

"The President expressed hope that room for manoeuvre in the European Council can be found which achieves the Commission's and Ireland's common aim of making it easier for Ireland to get back on its feet."

But Mr Kenny faced his first hurdle when German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would back a lower interest rate if Ireland weighs in behind a common EU-wide corporate tax base - potentially threatening Ireland's controversially low 12.5pc rate.

The European Council was convened by President Herman Van Rompuy to discuss the situation in Libya and the surrounding areas.

Discussion is likely to focus on how the European Union can best support democratic transformation, encourage reforms and promote regional security and prosperity.

The Eurozone meeting will discuss how to develop stronger economic policy co-ordination in the euro area.

Mr Kenny will be hoping for one-on-one meetings with other leaders to discuss the multi-billion bail-out, including Ms Merkel.

The coalition has agreed to accept the reforms enacted in Budget 2011 and accept the targets agreed with the IMF and EU for next year.

But the Fine Gael-Labour partnership is pushing to have the tail end of the deal revised.

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